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What can I do if I have a BRCA mutation?

For any person with a BRCA mutation, I recommend speaking with a genetic counselor. He or she will be able to help you understand your level of risk—some BRCA mutations are more serious than others, but ultimately this means that you have an increased risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer for women and prostate cancer for men. A genetic counselor will be able to help you understand what “increased risk” means for you by looking at your family history. In some cases and depending on the level of risk, it may be advisable to undergo preventative treatments. Examples might be prophylactic mastectomy or proactive drug therapy.

The lifetime risk of developing certain types of cancer is greatly increased for women and men who inherit a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Men and women can learn if they have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation by getting evaluated.

Knowing about the presence of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation can be lifesaving. There are many interventions that can increase the chance for early diagnosis and/or lower the chances for developing cancer.

Men and women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation may do the following:

  • Choose to start screening for breast cancer at age 25
  • Receive specialized breast screening that includes regular mammography and breast MRI
  • Participate in screening studies that offer cutting-edge technologies
  • Be screened for ovarian cancer
  • Choose to have ovaries or healthy breast tissue removed to reduce risk of developing cancer
  • Be candidates for other specialized types of enhanced screening
  • Receive personalized medical recommendations for overall health

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.